How Appropriate

By Serena Zets – 10th Grade, Pittsburgh CAPA


My mother was teased for her bindi.

Her lunches of curry and rice

were scoffed at.

She was shamed for accepting

outdated hand-me-downs

from the neighbor girl.


But, I’m considered cool

because of my paisley

tunics and samosas.


Culture is the new couture.


I’ve witnessed the never-ending stream of

white girls with bindis peppering

their foreheads,

as if they’re nothing more than

insignificant freckles.


Their hands are adorned with  the beautiful

scrolls and curls of henna. Too bad

the even more beautiful meaning

has been scrubbed away.


One time, for Halloween,

I let a friend borrow a sari, so they

could become a gypsy for a night

of trick or treating.

Looking back, I want to shout it in the

girl’s face that,



I’m not here to be objectified and romanticized.

Because being questioned in airports is not fun.

Having slurs hurled at me in parking lots

is not trendy.

It’s my reality.

Serena Zets Serena Zets is a sophomore at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School. At CAPA, her discipline is literary arts where she received the opportunity to take part in an introductory journalism course. She is a resident of Squirrel Hill where she bakes, reads, and most importantly sleeps.

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